In the Lord of the Flies William Golding has a group of schoolboys crash on an
island and become barbaric. The reason why the boys turn wild is because of their
primal instinct to hurt others. This behavior is inherited from early ancestors killing to
stay alive. Mans tendency towards violence, how people take sides and divide into
groups, and the struggle for power are three ways mans behavior will generally occur.
Each of these suggests that violence is a key factor to getting what they want.
Mans primal instinct towards violence really shows when they are living without
rules or realize that there are no authority figures to enforce any rules. Without having
consequences for any actions that might be taken then they primal instinct of the boys
begins to take over. Even though the fact of no punishments may be known in the back
of ones mind there is still the thought of what’s right. “Roger stooped, picked up a stone,
aimed, and threw it at Henry and back again.” (Page 67) This is an example of how
Roger knows it is wrong to hit someone with a rock but also knows that there are no
punishments for anything. “The madness came into his eyes again. “I thought I might
kill.”” (Page 55) This is showing how he lets his primal side take over his thoughts when
he is hunting. He forgets about everything he had ever been told about what’s right
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because of his primal instinct to kill. He had an urge to hunt, his instincts were teaching
him how. Even thought he really did now know how to hunt mans primal instincts helped
him learn quickly.
How people take sides and form groups shows how majority rules. The majority
that rules needs a leader. This leader has to hold the rules but when the children’s primal
instincts take over the control is lost but the majority still rules. “Let him be the chief
with the trumpet thing.” (Page 24) This quote shows how all of the children are agreeing
on this. Once one mentions it, the rest agree. If there is not anyone brave enough to
mention something then no one will because they are all afraid that no one else will agree
with them. “Who thinks Ralph oughtn’t be chief?” – “he looked expectantly at the boys
ranged round, who had frozen.”(Page 140) This particular quote shows that. Everyone
really wanted Jack to be chief but each of them were afraid that no one else felt the same
way. They tend to group together when they make fun of someone or something funny is
said. “ “He’s not fatty,” cried Ralph, “his real name’s Piggy!” “Piggy!” “Piggy!” “Oh
Piggy!” A storm of laughter arose and even the tinniest child joined in. For the moment
the boys were a closed circuit of sympathy with Piggy outside:” (page 23) As long as
what someone has started seems mildly amusing everyone will join in. It takes one
person to start something and after that everyone will join in.
There is a major struggle for power, their desperate attempts for this power brings
them to their primal instinct to hurt others. They wish to control and in the process of
being there will do anything they can. Also to stay there they will make the others fear
them. Before the primal instincts start to show they listen very well. “Ralph smiled and
held up the conch for silence” (page 25) All of the children are quite content and listen
quite well. Jack, as a leader takes as he pleases and does not think rationally and uses his
power to become the most powerful, he wants everything. “We’ll raid them and take
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fire.” (Page 150) He wants everything that he can possibly get to be the most powerful.
Jack was applying pain and fear to keep his power. “—they made us. They hurt us— ”
(page 207) Jack uses violence in his struggle for power and eventually achieves his goal.
The rules are eventually enforced because they become afraid of what might happen if
they do not listen.
The behavior that was inherited from early ancestors killing to stay alive is what
message Golding managed to get across. The desperate struggle for power brought in
killing to bring fear among the rest of the children so that he was the leader. As long as
he had all the children afraid to leave him then he had the majority of them because not
one of them was going to get up and risk there life because they did not like him.
Golding is saying that without authority to enforce rules mans primal instincts will begin
to take over.